Universe

Discovered a surprise on the Mars Rover Curiosity

Mars once had an Earth-like atmosphere with plenty of oxygen? The Mars robot curiosity found evidence that on the road is four years on the red planet. In the Gale crater on Mars, the robot discovered material that should there actually do not exist.

In the journal “geophysical research letters” report scientists of at Los Alamos National Laboratory, that curiosity manganese oxide could prove in the rocks on the Martian surface. Because this mineral connection only in combination with enough hydrogen and oxygen, the researchers conclude that Mars once had a different atmosphere than it is today.

Mars
The Kimberley-formation on Mars in the Valley before the mount sharp: Also this picture has taken the Rover Curiosity. Photo: NASA

The Rover had discovered the manganese oxide, as he examined a mineral vein, using a laser. Curiosity had already 2014 found strong variations in methane in the Gale crater.

Strong sign of atmosphere with plenty of oxygen

“The only way we know how these manganese-containing materials are created, are atmospheric oxygen or microbes,” says Nina Lanza, Planetologin at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. In the case of Mars’ is the work of microbes rather unlikely, the former existence of an oxygen-containing atmosphere combined with liquid water.

Gale crater on Mars
Blick aus dem Gale-Krater auf den Mount Sharp auf dem Mars.
Foto: NASA

In is however possible, explains the journal “geophysical research letters” report scientists of at Los Alamos National Laboratory, that curiosity manganese oxides could prove in the rocks on the Martian surface. Because this mineral connection only in combination with enough hydrogen and oxygen, the researchers conclude that Mars once had a different atmosphere than it is today

Mars mission photo
Currently, curiosity explores the Gale crater on Mars. Here, the robot has found manganese oxide. Photo: NASA

Curiosity explores the Gale crater on Mars in the year 2012. Also water could have been there before.

As at the time of the oxygen in the Martian atmosphere could be reached, Nina Lanza explains with a theory: at a time when Mars had still more water, lost its magnetic field.

crater on Mars
Rock on Mars: the tracks that was left by water in the formation are clearly visible. Photo: NASA

Without this protective case, cosmic radiation on the surface of the planet could penetrate and cause with their force and energy that split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

The rather slight hydrogen escaped due to the low gravity in space, the heavier oxygen remained in the atmosphere, penetrated even into the rock, causing the characteristic red color.